Merivon gives old almond trees a new lease of life
‘Minter Magic’ is a horticultural brand with a rich heritage. The Minter family has been growing asparagus at Iraak, near Mildura, since 1927. At various stages the Minters have pioneered the use of varieties that later became mainstays of the whole industry.
That tradition of innovation continues. Darren and Anne-Marie Minter and their son Garry – the fourth and fifth generations on the farm – now manage almond and citrus orchards with a larger footprint than their asparagus crops. The whole enterprise covers over 300 extremely productive hectares and fresh produce carrying the Minter Magic brand is exported to thirty countries as well as distributed throughout Australia.
The family’s move into almonds is an example of their willingness to innovate and their brave decision-making. They began growing almonds in 1985, long before the industry’s current success was on the horizon. In 2009, just as the business was dealing with the impact of three years of severe drought, Darren bought a neighbouring property to enormously increase their almond plantings. They expanded the plantings again in 2015.
Now innovation on a smaller, but still significant scale is giving the original almond orchard a new lease of life. Over the last few years its 35-year-old trees had gradually been yielding less and hull rot had become a persistent problem. Darren had decided to pull them out after the 2020 harvest, but adding BASF’s Merivon® fungicide to the spray program turned things around.
The Minters used Merivon just once at about 80% bloom – on the cusp between late-blossom and petal-fall.
“There was a 90% reduction in hull rot,” Darren said shortly after the harvest. “The almonds are good quality considering the dry season we’ve had and the old trees produced about a tonne to the acre, which is more than they used to produce as well. So these trees will now stay in ground.”
The very high level of hull rot control also simplified harvest, as Darren explained. “The trees where there has been hull rot before normally have to be shaken twice, but this year we’ve only shaken once.”
2019’s single spray of Merivon has turned around the fate of those trees and will make a lasting difference to the fungicidal spray rotation for the Minters’ entire almond crop. “I’ll definitely be using Merivon up to three times in my spray program next year because the results have so been good,” Darren said. “It’ll be interesting to see if we get the same result again, because 2019 was a drier year.”
Minter Magic’s forward-thinking move into almonds and the bold expansion in 2009 was ultimately about minimising risk through greater diversification. The adoption of innovative products like Merivon – just one of a long list of new products BASF is launching in the next few years – is a similarly forward-thinking change that will make the almond trees more productive and prolong the usefulness of older products under resistance pressure.